China to execute Burlington man who championed Muslim state
- China to execute Burlington man who championed Muslim
By Christine Cox
The Hamilton Spectator
BURLINGTON (Aug 9, 2006)
Amnesty International fears that Huseyin Celil, a
Burlington man held in a Chinese jail, could be
executed by tomorrow.
The organization has unconfirmed reports that Celil,
37, will be put to death for alleged terrorist
Celil's wife, Kamila Telendibaeva, clings to the
belief that it can't happen. Celil's sister tearfully
called from China last week saying a police officer
had told her Celil would be killed Aug. 10, but
Canadian officials told Telendibaeva that the Chinese
government said it wasn't true.
Telendibaeva hasn't seen her husband since he was
arrested in Uzbekistan while they were visiting her
family. Celil, a political dissident who came to
Canada as a refugee, was arrested on a warrant from
China. He had been sentenced to death in absentia in
He had championed the cause of the Muslim Uygur people
in northwest Xinjiang province, an area taken over by
the Chinese more than 50 years ago.
Every day Telendibaeva's three children ask her
"Where's Daddy?" Telendibaeva, who is due to give
birth to her fourth child Aug. 20, tells them he is
coming back soon.
In reality, she is very frightened for his safety.
"I hope and I pray for good news," the soft-spoken
woman says as she sits on a sofa in her modestly
"I am thinking all the time about my husband."
She rejects the possibility that he could be executed,
but she worries that the Chinese authorities may
torture him or mistreat him in some way.
"They can give him some medicine, some injections,"
she said. "They can hurt him and he can lose his
What frustrates her most is the lack of information.
The Canadian government does not know where he's being
Ambra Dickie, a Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said
yesterday there are ongoing communications between the
Canadian government and the Chinese government
regarding Celil. Canada has formally requested
information on Celil's exact whereabouts and is
seeking immediate consular access.
"We continue to make every effort to confirm Mr.
Celil's well-being and to ensure he is afforded due
process and that his rights are protected, she said.
"Chinese authorities continue to maintain that they
will not seek the death penalty."
Dickie said Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay is
following the case very closely.
Telendibaeva's Hamilton lawyer, Chris MacLeod, said
Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to send a special
envoy to Beijing whose sole mission is to deal with
the Celil case. MacLeod also thinks Canada should send
a strong message by recalling its ambassador to China.
MacLeod said China has failed to meet its obligations
under the Geneva Convention, including consular
access, telling Canada what the charges are against
Celil, and ensuring that there is a fair trial if the
charges are legitimate.
Canada gave Celil refugee status to protect him from
his persecutors, but now he's in their hands, the
lawyer said. "They scooped him from a third country
while he was travelling on a Canadian passport ... In
light of China's track record, you cannot help but be
McMaster University professor John Colarusso considers
Celil's chances of surviving are "pretty slim."
Colarusso said the Uygur separatist movement is fairly
strong in western China and China might execute Celil
as an example, although that would make him a martyr
for the Uygurs. Some countries don't care about
Canadian passports if a person has dual citizenship,
Telendibaeva said Celil doesn't have a Chinese
passport because China doesn't give them to Uygurs,
and that he did not know it would be dangerous to
Beth Berton-Hunter, an Amnesty International
spokesperson, said the organization has put out an
Urgent Action call.
It is urging human rights supporters everywhere to
appeal to Chinese authorities on Celil's behalf,
including faxing the ambassador to Canada, Lu Shumin
Amnesty International says the death penalty is used
extensively and often arbitrarily in China.
At least 1,770 people were executed and 3,900
sentenced to death last year. Amnesty International
has documented several cases of Uygurs being executed
for alleged separatist or terrorist activities.
1998 -- Huseyin Celil flees China for Uzbekistan and
2001 -- Huseyin Celil and his wife Kamila Telendibaeva
arrive in Canada as political refugees.
2005 -- They receive Canadian citizenship.
March 27, 2006 -- Celil arrested in Uzbekistan.
June 2006 -- Celil quietly deported to China from
August 2006 -- Unconfirmed reports that Celil will be
executed Aug. 10.
More about Islam and Muslims in CHina at: